J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2007, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (6): 827-842.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2007.00504.x

Special Issue: Rice Genomics and Agriculture

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The WRKY Gene Family in Rice (Oryza sativa)

Christian A. Ross, Yue Liu and Qingxi J. Shen   

  • Published:2007-06-05


WRKY genes encode transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of various biological processes. These zinc-finger proteins, especially those members mediating stress responses, are uniquely expanded in plants. To facilitate the study of the evolutionary history and functions of this supergene family, we performed an exhaustive search for WRKY genes using HMMER and a Hidden Markov Model that was specifically trained for rice. This work resulted in a comprehensive list of WRKY gene models in Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica and L. ssp. japonica. Mapping of these genes to individual chromosomes facilitated elimination of the redundant, leading to the identification of 98 WRKY genes in japonica and 102 in indica rice. These genes were further categorized according to the number and structure of their zinc-finger domains. Based on a phylogenetic tree of the conserved WRKY domains and the graphic display of WRKY loci on corresponding indica and japonica chromosomes, we identified possible WRKY gene duplications within, and losses between the two closely related rice subspecies. Also reviewed are the roles of WRKY genes in disease resistance and responses to salicylic acid and jasmonic acid, seed development and germination mediated by gibberellins, other developmental processes including senescence, and responses to abiotic stresses and abscisic acid in rice and other plants. The signaling pathways mediating WRKY gene expression are also discussed.

Key words: gene family, indica, japonica, Oryza sativa, rice, WRKY.

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